Ai Weiwei Unveils Public Art Project Highlighting Hostility Toward Immigrants

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You keep saying you’ll visit a museum but here we are, Fall already in full swing, and you’re still too busy.

That’s why public art is so great: you’re walking around the city, running errands and doing you, and BAM—culture. No museum required.

One new project spans every borough so you really can’t miss it.

Last week, world-renowned artist and human rights activist Ai Weiwei unveiled his public art exhibition, “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors,” across the city.

This massive, multifaceted project sprawls across all five boroughs—large-scale works in Central Park and Washington Square Park, site-specific constructions on top of and in between private buildings, and smaller installations mounted in and on bus shelters, newsstands, LinkNYC kiosks, and flagpoles.

Some prominent locations are the Arch at Washington Square Park, Doris C Freedman Place in Central Park, and the Unisphere at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens. The private sites include 48 East 7th Street, 189 Chrystie Street, 248 Bowery, and outside The Cooper Union.

publicartfund View from up top. “Gilded Cage” as part of @aiww: #GoodFences Make Good Neighbors, opening citywide October 12. The work at Doris C Freedman Plaza (5th Ave & 60th St) transforms the fence into a cage-like structure, inviting the public to walk into and around the sculpture, allowing for both interaction with the work, and consideration of the inherent dualities of the world we live in. #PAF40 📷 regram @aiww


The citywide exhibition is inspired by the international migration crisis, addressing issues like growing hostility towards immigrants, the rise of global nationalism and the expansive refugee crisis.

publicartfund As part of @aiww #GoodFences Make Good Neighbors, there are 200 lamppost banners all over the city displaying portraits of immigrants and refugees. Seen here is Banner 2 on 56th street, from a suite of images by Augustus Sherman, an amateur photographer at Ellis Island who captured nearly 12 newcomers between 1892 and 1954. #PAF40 #publicart #publicartfund


By “growing” out of the existing urban infrastructure and using the fabric of the city as a foundation, Weiwei highlights the role of the fence in dividing people and the ubiquitousness of that division, which, like the pervasive installations, is all around us.

publicartfund Join us TONIGHT from 5:30 to 6:30pm ​in ​Washington Square Park for a special public preview of #GoodFences Make Good Neighbors with @aiww, actress @oliviawilde, Director of the UNHCR @refugees Office in New York NINETTE KELLEY, Public Art Fund Director & Chief Curator @nicholasbaume, and other passionate friends and supporters from our local and global community. Tomorrow we will unveil the 300+ site, 5-borough exhibition. A passionate response to the global refugee crisis and the political and social forces that seek to divide us from each other, the exhibition transforms the security fence into a powerful social and artistic symbol. 📷 Jason Wyche


Raised amid the upheavals of China’s Cultural Revolution, Weiwei strongly empathizes with displaced people because he’s been in their position. Weiwei and his family were branded state enemies and exiled. Eventually, the artist made his way to NYC in the 1980s.

But don’t worry about rushing to see them, you have time to leisurely experience each location, as the project runs through February 2018.

 
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